How to get repeat donors, repeat donations

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December 21, 2022
Repeat donors and why they happen...or not
by Lori Shecter

Repeat donors and why they happen…or not

Donors can be nurtured properly to become repeat donors.  One thing is for sure, sending out your “end of year” letter, email, campaign, etc. is surely not going to have the same impact on donors compared to having conversations with them more frequently and NOT at the same time everyone else is.

Here is what happens to me:

I am a huge social media user (I have to be because of my job, she said.) Anyhow, every year, some amazing stories appear on my feed and compel me to donate.  And maybe there are 10 of them (or 20).  I am pretty involved in giving to as many organizations as I can.  I get the obligatory thank you note/email.  And then, dead silence.  For at least 6 months and maybe a year.  By the holidays, I’ve already seen a gazillion more non-profits that I’m donating to, so by the time I get the “ask” letter, I am done with my non-profit budget.  But even so, those “end-of-year” updates will not even compel me to donate because I have no idea how you spent MY money.  Did it go into a pool of other donations?  Did it help Sally get an apartment, or did Fido a forever home?  Tell me what my donation did.  Please.

Repeat donors…how to get them

Every non-profit’s dream would be if every first-time donor continued to donate every year or even every month, but alas, this is not the case.  Why and how do donors become repeat donors:

  • they have a primary connection to your cause (i.e. a cancer survivor, pet rescuer, etc.
  • they have a relationship with someone in your organization
  • they believe in your cause
  • they’ve been helped by your cause

Survey your donors

When you find out why your donors become repeat donors, you can continue to nurture their relationship with you. It’s easy to find out.  Instead of simply sending thank you notes, send a questionnaire asking them the “whys” and what they would like to see in the upcoming year.  Two easy tools are Survey Monkey (free) and Typeform.  Even 10 responses, can provide a clear understanding of why users donate to your mission and what kinds of communication they would like to have from you.  You can also use this opportunity to research support for new programs and existing ones AND find out how often they would like to be communicated with.  (In what format?)

What to do in 2023

1:  Create good pages on your website.

Most impactful are videos about the people, places, and things you have helped.  It is why causes that post about abused pets get a high engagement rate – lots of rescue videos.  YOU ARE A DONOR.  What do YOU respond to?

  • Impact page: Tell your donors exactly how their contribution helped the constituents of your organization.  Example
  • Stories page:  Videos – nothing is as powerful as the sight, sound, motion, and emotion of videos to tell your donors the impact of their donation.
  • Donation page:  Make it easy to donate with great donation pages.
  • Schedule your communication.  Need organization?  Use Trello for free to help you keep on track.

2:  Don’t get overwhelmed.  Just start and be consistent.

  • Once a week social media posts – (More if you can on whatever platform you get the most engagement.)
  • Once a week post to your website (and then share to social media) to encourage engagement.
  • Once-a-month newsletter – updates, events, stories of one individual, animal, or place, impact statistics, and more.

3:  Larger donors: 

Do you have larger donors?  How do they like to be recognized? ASK THEM.  And maybe they don’t care, or maybe they do.  If you don’t have a dialog with them, they will never know.

In the end, don’t wait until the end of the year to push out all your marketing, and don’t worry if THIS YEAR wasn’t a banner year.  Get started doing the list I provided and I promise your repeat donors will keep on repeating.

Check out the related articles below to get started on more ways to increase donations.


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